This past summer, I had the good fortune of working as an account management intern at Boathouse Group – an independent, full-service marketing agency just outside of Boston. Upon returning to campus and discussing summer experiences with peers and professors, I often had the opportunity to answer the question: “What made the Boathouse Group experience so rewarding?” My shorthand answer is this: The company culture and values, the structure of the internship program, and the accessibility of knowledgeable professionals. Luckily, I have this platform to expand on my answer and (I hope) do justice to my exceptional experience at Boathouse.
Boathouse Company Culture
Behind founding partners Chris Boland and John Connors III, Boathouse has built an excellent reputation and has created a vibrant company culture – something I could feel the moment I walked in. The more time I spent with the company, the more my appreciation grew.
My months at Boathouse were everything I could have asked for in an internship experience. Each department in the agency was staffed by talented professionals – eager to take time to answer any questions about marketing strategy and tactics.
The tasks we were given aimed to challenge us and push us outside of our comfort zones – but not to overwhelm us. Best of all, the work that we were doing made tangible and relevant contributions to the company. Cameron Mize, Gregory Hennrikus, and Kathryn Shute (our intern managers) worked hard to ensure that our time was fulfilling and productive. They constantly asked us for feedback, and they modified the program to better achieve our goals. These outstanding supervisors treated each intern like a full-time employee, holding us to the same expectations as the rest of the company.
Although plenty of work was done during the internship, we also found time for fun – whether it was attending a Red Sox game, spending a day volunteering, or organizing a companywide social gathering.
Boathouse Internship Structure
The structure of the Boathouse program was different from those at other companies I considered. Here, the program consisted of two main areas of focus: Department work and an integrated campaign challenge. I learned from experienced professionals, and through hands-on campaign experience, created tangible value for the agency.
The department work provided me with direct experience in the firm's media department (online and offline), its creative department, and its strategy and research department – along with my focus in account management. Boathouse paired each intern with a mentor whose experience matched the students’ interest area. I found this exposure to be eye-opening as I learned the nuances of account management by participating both in internal meetings (with my account management team) and in external meetings with clients. [Clients included MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), MEFA (Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority), and others.]
For the campaign challenge, we (the interns) were split into two teams. Working with the agency departments, we were tasked with creating our own agency (name, logo, mission, etc.) and developing an integrated marketing campaign for a Boathouse client. Throughout the process, we interfaced with the company’s owner to ensure that we not only satisfied, but exceeded, her expectations. At the end of the internship, we presented to Boathouse executives and to the client company to determine which team would have their campaign implemented. I am proud to say that my team won this pitch.
Additionally, I participated in fundraising for Small Can Be Big, a charity organization established by Boathouse to connect low-income families with donors matched to their specific needs.
Many people have advised me to attain a wide base of experiences early in my career – and the Boathouse program offered an opportunity to do just that. I found it gratifying that my contributions were both encouraged and rewarded.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Boathouse Group was the accessibility of its top executives. How many CEO's make time to interact with their summer interns? The Boathouse founders made time for us – discussing the internship, their own career paths, our personal goals, and issues in the marketing and advertising industry. Their advice stuck with me, including key points that I think about every day:
- Be an active listener. Don't just “wait to talk”.
- Too many people are caught up in their own ideas or hearing their own voice that they miss the important opinions and perspectives that others can offer. Don't make this mistake. Always give the speaker your full attention.
- Be curious. Don't give up until you find the answer.
- Many people are willing to settle for an answer that doesn't truly satisfy the question. It is important to be relentlessly curious – in both business and personal settings.
- Tenacity will take you far. Don't take no for an answer.
- If you truly believe in something and want it badly enough, keep fighting for it. Many people are discouraged by failure – and settle for something less-than-optimal. Hard work, positivity, and persistence are keys to success.
Overall, my time at Boathouse was fulfilling as I enjoyed coming in to work and immersing myself in the marketing and advertising industry. It was rewarding to make an immediate impact on current client projects – a pleasure that is often not experienced by summer interns at other marketing and advertising agencies.
My experience was augmented by a great group of fellow interns who challenged me and stimulated me each and every day. I am a better teammate and a more effective communicator because of them. I would be remiss if I did not thank them and to express my gratitude to the following people: John Connors, Chris Boland, Fred Criniti, Cameron Mize, Nate Moulter, Gregory Hennrikus, Kathryn Shute, and everyone else at Boathouse. You all made my Boathouse internship a rewarding introduction to the marketing profession.